Black Friday crowds push some residents to ‘Opt Outside’

DELAWARE — While droves of avid shoppers hit the stores early for Black Friday sales of all kinds, others decided to avoid the chaos by opting outside or staying home to enjoy time with their families for another day.

A to Z Cycles, Inc. based out of Dover, organized an annual motorcycle ride Friday as just one option to help people avoid the stores, and shopping pressure, for an afternoon.

At 11 a.m., about 14 motorcyclists gathered at the downtown shop to enjoy each other’s company before heading out onto the road.
“Opt Outside is a relaxing and healthy alternative to fighting busy shopping crowds,” Delaware Nature Society’s Director of Advocacy and External Affairs Emily Knearl said.

She added that DNS has encouraged Delawareans to opt outside through social media and other outlets.
With a similar idea in mind, visitors to Delaware State Parks like Killens Pond in Felton were able to get in for free instead of paying admission per vehicle.

“The ‘opt outside’ event is now a tradition at DNREC’s Delaware state parks, and the numbers of visitors are increasing each year,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said in a press release. “Between the Brandywine Zoo and our parks across the state, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Those willing to forego shopping and opt instead for a day of hiking, biking and adventuring will find more than 150 miles of trails to explore throughout Delaware, spectacular locations for bird and wildlife watching, scenic beaches and much more.”

Although the Opt Outside movement, started by outdoors company REI in 2015, focuses on encouraging people to get outdoors for a day and work off their Thanksgiving feast from the day before, small business owners say the day has an additional benefit.

Don Vaughan, co-owner of Not Too Shabby in Milford, said opting outside instead of shopping around on Black Friday helps keep the focus on shopping in local small businesses instead of larger stores, benefiting the community as a whole.
They believe in the movement so much that they kept their store closed on Black Friday, or Opt Outside day, preparing for an influx of shoppers for Small Business Saturday the next day.

“Honestly, as a small business, it can be hard to offer the kinds of deals people are expecting during Black Friday. Most shoppers are so focused on big box shopping anyways. However, we as a small business, just felt like it was more important to spend time with friends and family,” he said.

“Small Business Saturday is such a great opportunity to show all of the small businesses how important they are to the community. I read that when you shop small, 67 cents from each dollar stays local. That’s an amazing factor.”

He said he holds himself and his family to the same standard.
“We try to shop local as much as possible,” he added. “We also don’t shop on actual holidays. We feel like by shopping those days, you show retailers that there is a need to be open. This holiday shopping doesn’t sneak up on us. It’s here every year about the same time. I will say that the need is there for us because we have no small ones or the need to shop for items that are typically deeply discounted during these types of events.”

Similarly, many businesses located in the heart of Milford remained closed on Black Friday, or Opt Outside day, as they rested for another day before Santa’s big arrival on Small Business Saturday.

“You can multiply the impact of your money when you shop small,” Lifecycle posted on their Facebook page. On average, 48 percent of each purchase at an indie business is recirculated locally. We witness in slower lower, that the recirculation is even higher. Big box stores – less than 14 percent stays in the community.”

Today, Small Business Saturday will bring sales to many privately owned businesses throughout the state.

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